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Lucas García, Fernando Romeo (1924–2006)

Lucas García, Fernando Romeo (1924–2006)

Fernando Romeo Lucas García, born on July 4, 1924, was a brigadier general who became president of Guatemala in July 1978, succeeding Kjell Laugerud. It is widely believed that the 1978 election was fraudulent, and that Enrique Peralta Azurdia was the real winner.

Lucas García presided over an administration that was generally perceived to be riddled with corruption, cronyism, and violence. During Lucas's tenure the Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP) gained significant support and territory from the mainly indigenous inhabitants of the western highlands. Political violence from the Far Right increased, particularly in urban areas, where students, union members, and professionals were regularly "disappeared" by death squads. During this period, the U.S. government under Jimmy Carter refused military aid to Guatemala because of human rights violations.

By 1980 Guatemala's once-vital economy had begun to weaken, due to world recession and a decline in tourism. Dissatisfaction with Lucas García within the military became acute, and on March 23, 1982, he was overthrown in a coup. Lucas was succeeded by a three-man junta consisting of General Efrain Ríos Montt, General Horacio Maldonado Schad, and Colonel Francisco Gordillo. In 1999 the Audiencia Nacional of Spain began criminal proceedings against Lucas García for accusations of torture and genocide against the Maya population. In 2000 Guatemala's Association for Justice and Reconciliation also sought prosecution. Both attempts failed, as Lucas García was living in Venezuela, which denied an extradition request, and was in any event incapacitated by Alzheimer's disease and other ailments. He died in Venezuela on May 27, 2006.

See alsoGuatemala; Human Rights; Laugerud García, Eugenio Kjell; Ríos Montt, José Efraín.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Jim Handy, Gift of the Devil: A History of Guatemala (1984).

Richard F. Nyrop, ed., Guatemala: A Country Study, 2d ed. (1984).

Jean-Marie Simon, Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny (1987).

Additional Bibliography

"Gen. Romeo Lucas García, 85, Former Guatemalan President, Dies." New York Times, May 29, 2006.

                                    Virginia Garrard-Burnett

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